Photo by Spigoo
It’s been confirmed: My readers are really wonderful, amazing people. I am very happy to be able to call you friends.
Two weeks ago, in the post Becoming (slightly) more than a face in the crowd, I asked you to share something about yourself with me. As LisaNewton wrote “I always try to remember that behind every word written online, there is a face and a person attached to the keyboard typing the words.” I wanted those faces and people to come into focus a bit more, and they have.
But I realized you weren’t just sharing with me, you were sharing with our little community here on Halfway to Normal. That’s incredibly important, when it comes to creating a stronger sense of community and encouraging conversation.
Thirty of you opened yourselves up, just a bit. Now I’m going to tell you what I’ve learned, and what I really like about you.
You’re quirky, and very much YOU.
I love quirky details—the things that surprise and confuse and throw us for little loops about people. These are the things that beat back stereotypes and make you exactly who you are. Anne, for instance, always manages to burn her hands when she’s cooking. Lori-Lyn loves her pug. A LOT. Pace is a Dance Dance Revolution champion, and used to hate ducks for no apparent reason. Mark loves drinking tea out of the Johnson Brother’s china I inherited from his grandmother. Gregory loves taking long road trips alone, as long as he knows friends are waiting at the end of his journey. Matt loudly sings “Everywhere” by Michelle Branch every time it comes on, and Shell doesn’t wear makeup.
You’re like me in many ways.
We all love to meet people we have things in common with. It’s a fact. It was fun (although not at all surprising) to discover how much I have in common with so many of you. TJ is a Midwesterner who is spiritually tuned-in and writes to understand herself and the world around her. Lori-Lyn is a seeker, and Jeb is working hard, every day, to be content exactly where he is, with who he is. Daisy is a Midwesterner, a mom and a blogger. Anne loved The Boxcar Children books as a child, and Laura Tamayo LOVES coffee—she sees it as much more than just a drink (I completely agree). You’re extroverts (Jonelle) like me, and music lovers (Mark, Cobalt-Blue and ChristinA), and you write for a living (The Modern Gal). You sound just like I feel when you share your love for blogging (Rebecca and Jamie). Some of you even live in my town (Lorna, Nisha and Pam). I see so much of myself in you.
And yet you’re not like me.
I also love discovering how you’re different from me. It makes my world more broad and rich. Becca, a dear friend I’ve known for years, is introverted and feels like she has nothing important to say (she has lots to say, of course, but that’s not the point—her response to the world around her is different from mine, and that’s a good thing). While I love music, I don’t “eat, breath, and sleep music” like Cobalt-Blue. While I’m spiritual, my church experience is different from TJ’s membership with the LDS.
Nisha is extremely restless, The Modern Gal is an only child, Sarah is a college student, Stef has lived in a foreign country and is struggling with being unemployed. Shell lives in Alaska, and Vicki lives in California and has four cats. I’ve never experienced any of those things. And then there’s Elaine, who is a cancer survivor who had a bone marrow transplant. She has amazing stories to tell—stories I could never begin to tell, because I can’t imagine her experience.
You’re dreamers, and you’re trying new things.
I love not just that you’re dreamers, but that you’re willing to step out and shared your dreams with the rest of us. That takes a certain amount of guts, and ultimately hope in the future. Ashley dreams of quitting her job and making a living as a freelancer. I believe she’s going to make it happen. Cobalt-Blue is branching out from classical music into jazz. Leslie wants to be a life coach some day, and Mothershaffer is throwing herself into her new blog. Jeb is simply a dreamer to the core.
You’re willing to be vulnerable.
This was perhaps my favorite part of the sharing you did. We go through so much of life, day by day, not being real with each other, which makes it harder for us to be real with ourselves. But here, I hope being real feels safe. That seems to be the case for many of you.
Ashley shared her “fear of not succeeding” as a freelancer, and how that keeps her at her “dayjob feeling bored and confused.” Laura Tamayo admits there are things she wishes she wanted, but doesn’t (like being a vegetarian). Rebecca worries that she’s “building online relationships at the expense of real ones,” and says letting people in is “extra scary.” Jamie wonders if she’ll ever be successful in her career AND in a relationship. Jonelle says she’s “never had a lot of faith in [her] writing ability,” and every day she misses her dad, who died 10 years ago. Nisha’s feelings about money get her in trouble sometimes, and Trina wishes she “would just do it.” I feel so much closer to all of you for sharing your hurts and fears.
Ultimately, you want to be known, and understood.
More than anything else, what we share in common, as human beings, is the desire to be heard, and to know we’re not alone. Reading about you just affirmed for me, once again, that we share that basic, human need. Trina wrote “I appreciate the chance to be a bit more known by you,” and Vicki wrote “thanks for asking.” I am so very glad I did.
As Gregory said, these online connections are about “helping people feel more loved and appreciated, less isolated and misunderstood. And that’s the most human kind of interaction I can imagine, even if it happens through high-tech media and machines.”